A true urban oasis for residents and visitors between Cleveland and Akron Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the state's only national park packed with 51-square miles of natural beauty on former Indian territory (Cuyahoga means "crooked river" in native Mohawk) in Northeast Ohio.
Despite its small size (compared to other national parks across America, see below), Cuyahoga Valley remains one of the top ten most frequently visited parks with more than 3 million visitors a year.
Many are drawn by Cuyahoga Valley's reputation for breathtakingly beautiful landscapes including rolling hills, winding river scenery, and dozens of waterfalls.
Open year-round, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a summer playground, offering such activities as biking, camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and bird watching, as well as music concerts, ranger-led nature programs, and sightseeing at historical sites.
Getting to Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is the major hub. Highways providing access to the Park include I-77, I-271, I-80 (Ohio Turnpike), and State Route 8, with signs to the park clearly marked on each as you near the park.
From Cleveland, take I-77 south. From Akron, go north on I-77 or Ohio 8; from the east or west, both I-80 and I-271 bisects the park.
On arrival, head for the Canal Visitor Center, for an overview of canal and
valley history and information on park activities. You can also sign up for ranger-led tours and special events.
Other visitor centers include the Happy Days Visitor Center, open Wednesday
through Sunday year-round; the Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center which is open daily from June to August and on weekends from September to May; and the Peninsula Depot, which is open daily from May to August.
Cuyahoga Valley hotels, lodging and campsites
While many visitors choose to stay in more urban hotels in the Cleveland,
Akron and Canton areas, lodging within the park includes The Inn at Brandywine Falls, a quaint B&B overlooking 67-foot waterfall,
and Cuyahoga Valley HI-Stanford Hostel.
Other facilities inside the park include five primitive campsites for hikers and
bicyclists near the Stanford House area.
see and do inside the park
Walk or bicycle a portion of the Towpath Trail before driving east to take in major "photo ops" at Tinkers Creek Gorge.
Then, head south for an unforgettable view of Brandywine Falls perhaps Cuyahoga Valley's most popular attraction.
Also don't miss the museum and exhibits at Boston and Peninsula featuring preserved and restored displays of 19th and early 20th century Ohio living and farm life.
Time permitting, also hike some of the spectacularly scenic trails south of the
Happy Days Lodge.
Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to spy animals and nature in the wild including coyote, flying squirrels, beavers, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, red foxes, rodents, reptiles. Included are some 250 species of birds including bald eagles, wood ducks, blue herons and songbirds.
In autumn, Cuyahoga Valley is also a prime destination for spectacular Ohio fall foliage touring available via scenic drives around the
park's perimeter, or hikes within the park for closer views of beautiful fall color.
More to do at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
During peak season, don't miss a classical performance at the Blossom Music Center, which serves as the summer weekend "annex" of the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as a major venue for rock and pop concerts from June to August.
With kids in tow, don't miss a ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, featuring Vintage engines and coaches at the Northern terminal near Thornburg Station. Stops include the Village of Peninsula, Hale Farm & Village, Inventure Place, Stan Hywett Hall & Gardens, Akron Zoo, and the Canal Visitor Center.
At the North Pier in Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga
Riverboat Tours also offers a look back at Ohio with a one-hour tour along the river and through the history of the Cuyahoga Valley.
More about Cuyahoga Valley National Park around the web:
Valley National Park - The official National Park Service site featuring a complete travel guide with information on lodging,
kid-friendly activities, photos, maps, driving directions.